Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Jenn's Review: Gauntlet

Summary: 660 tons of Semtex is detonated in a massive explosion in Libya. The operation seems to have gone smoothly, but within minutes of the explosion, CIA agent Richard Lawrence discovers that one shipment of the explosive has been hijacked. Days later, a glory-seeking 'Emir' broadcasts to the world that he is planning a massive terrorist strike against a U.S. landmark. And he gives a time line of one month. Now a desperate chase is on, as the men bent on attacking the U.S. use every weapon at their disposal to evade American authorities. Time and again they prove willing to destroy anything - and anyone - standing in their way. But Hamilton Turbee, an autistic computer mastermind at the newly created TTIC agency, discovers a way to track them. His flawed genius gives the nation its only chance at stopping the attack - if the American leadership will listen. As the enemies near their destination, it is up to the TTIC team to stop the massive explosion that could destroy the lives of millions.

Review: This is book is a little outside of my usual genre. Whereas I love thrillers, I tend to find techno/military-centric books (like Tom Clancy) to be heavy and cumbersome with jargon, but here this was not the case. It was a fascinating read and thoroughly accessible.

Richard Aaron is extremely adept at juggling a complex plot and a full cast of characters. The continuous barrage of new characters was a little daunting in the first fifty pages or so, but Aaron makes sure all of the stories entwine just enough for the reader keep everyone straight. Interwoven with each division, who are either attempting to prevent or create the terrorist attack, is a little bit of back story, keeping the reader invested in not just the story but each of the characters (good guys & bad guys). I couldn't help but route for Turbee and his compatriots. I was so worried about Turbee at one point I was actually flipping through pages to find out if he was okay. Aaron even helps the reader understand what would bring Yousseff, the drug lord turned terrorist, to a point in his life where he encounters the question of committing such a heinous act.

There are a few torture scenes that were a little gory and graphic for me and a couple minor plot points I found tough to believe, but as a whole it is a riveting and terrifying tale. My disappointment was that the denouement was too quick and the ending too open. I wanted more closure. I would like to know what happens with CIA agent Richard Lawrence and his friend Zak. I wanted more wrapped up. However, I think this is a credit to the realistic nature of the book; in real life, there probably wouldn't be a tidy ending to this story. Aaron's second novel is in the works and I hope it contains an epilogue of sorts for this story. Even if it's only mentioned in passing plot exposition.

For a first novel, this is a masterful piece of literature. Aaron's technique of weaving the complicated story lines together is something a lesser writer could not have pulled off. I am anxiously awaiting Counterplay, his second novel.

Final Take: 4.5/5.0


Julie April 15, 2009 at 8:58 AM  

This one sounds right up my dad's alley.

Becky Workman April 15, 2009 at 10:41 AM  

Thanks for the review! I'm just getting ready to start this one!

Richard Aaron April 15, 2009 at 9:53 PM  

It is readers like yourself that make writing worth it. It thrills me to get the thoughts in my head transferred to paper so that others are able to experience and enjoy it. Thank you for the wonderful review.

Much appreciated,
Richard Aaron

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